Single-Shots Ruled the Election

Over 1,200 voters — or 31% — voted for only one person during Tuesday’s two-seat City Council election. That is three times more than the number of single-shots cast in the last election. This was the method of voting that supporters of Republican Rob Schilling were encouraged to use to avoid lending support to Democrats, though the figures aren’t available to determine how many of those single votes were for Schilling. Republican Jon Bright got 33 write-ins, and I got 20. There were also write-ins for Joan Fenton, David Simmons, Bern Ewert, John Casteen, Jerry Garcia and Spider-Man, among others. Jake Mooney has the story in today’s Progress.

23 thoughts on “Single-Shots Ruled the Election”

  1. Note: according to Loper’s page, it was about twice the number of single-shots as in 1998, the last time there were four candidates.


    Daily Progress staff writer

    More than 1,200 Charlottesville voters chose only one candidate in Tuesday’s City Council election, in what may have been a vindication of city Republicans’ strategy of encouraging residents to throw away their second vote.

    “That’s a huge amount” of so-called “undervotes,” city voter registrar Sheri Iachetta said. “That’s three times the amount that we had in the last election.”

    Though it is impossible to tell for certain which candidate the single votes went to, some Republicans had encouraged their supporters to vote only for the GOP’s Rob Schilling, even though there were two contested council seats.

    The maneuver, known as single-shotting, was intended to keep Schilling supporters from voting for other candidates and hurting his chances.

    Some Republicans also encouraged voters to write in the name of party member and former council candidate Jon Bright as a way of avoiding voting for the other candidates.

    The idea may have paid off: In a race in which 84 votes separated the worst-performing winner from the best-performing loser, Bright led write-in candidates with 33 votes for various spellings of his name.

    The write-in candidate with the second-most votes was Waldo Jaquith, who narrowly missed getting a Democratic nomination in February but who since has discouraged supporters from voting for him. The various spellings of Jaquith’s name totaled 20 votes, including one for “WALDOO.”

    Though Jaquith said Wednesday that he was “flattered” by the support, he added, “I’m pleased to know that I got so few votes. I’d hate to think that votes had gone to me that could have gone to Alexandria Searls. I still think it’s 20 too many.”

    Others receiving write-in votes included Councilor David J. Toscano, who is leaving the council in July; former Democratic candidates Bern Ewert, Joan Fenton and David Simmons; and former mayor Tom Vandever.

    Notable Americans and local residents past and present also picked up votes. They included UVa President John T. Casteen III, “ELANOR ROOSEVELT,” Harriet Tubman, Jerry Garcia and “UVA PROFESSOR SABATO.”

    There was one vote for “LOWER VOLLEYBALL FEES” and one for “SPIDER MAN,” prompting Jaquith to quip, “At least I got more than Spider-Man.”

  2. I must confess.

    I single-shotted Schilling. (Say that five times fast.)

    I can’t say what actually made the decision for me. I didn’t intend to when I walked in. But standing there looking at the list of names, there really wasn’t anyone else I wanted to check off. Caravati and Searls were more or less lumped together in my mind, and promised only a continuation of the status quo. Salidis seems like a decent guy, but nothing he’s standing for really resonates with me. I had nothing to draw me to anyone else. So I let the single check mark suffice… it being the only vote that I really cared to express. It really is too bad you weren’t on the list Waldo.

    It’s interesting to me, though, that even though I single-shotted Schilling intentionally, my wife also single-shotted Schilling, but on accident. She (like me) declined to watch the video on how to use the new machines, didn’t read the directions painted on the machine, and didn’t realize that she could make both of her choices on the first display of the list of candidates. And apparently didn’t understand that she could go back to the list of candidates from the very next screen.

    She didn’t seem terribly upset over throwing away a vote, though. Opining that she didn’t really care for anyone else on the ballot.

  3. Impossible! The only people who single-shotted did it because of the newspaper! There is no other possible reason! Don’t you see? Searls is really quite personable and charming! She lost because of the newspaper, fool!

  4. Not voting for someone you don’t like is not “throwing your vote away”. I think it’s worse to vote for someone you don’t really want in office than it is to not vote at all. I think many voters agree with me and expressed their feelings for the candidates by staying away and voting for nobody.

  5. How is this not trolling? Discussing what is and isn’t a legitimate voting exercise has been in -1’ed the past. Who knows anymore…

  6. Although I voted for two candidates my friend Paul who voted at the same time I did accidently only voted for one. Like another person here, he was confused about how the machine worked. Paul has a near genius IQ, is a U. Va graduate and got an A in computer science. So it’s not like he’s more foolish than the rest of us.

    You can vote a stock proxy on the Internet more easily with better security and greater privacy than you can using these new machines. The Dems eager to spend your tax money are hyping them as wonders. Lets see if the hype lasts past their realization that the machines–not a Republican cabal but accidental single-shotting–may have cost them a city council seat.

  7. This is America. Just as we are able to vote for certain government candidates, we are absolutely free to NOT vote for certain candidates.

    I have “under-voted” continuously ever since I could vote simply because I have always voted ONLY for people I favored.

    This is not “throwing away” a vote, it’s using your vote only for those you would like to see elected.

  8. i can’t believe the posts i’m seeing with people saying they couldn’t figure out the machines….

    i am not a near-genius, not a uva grad, not a computer science major. I didn’t watch the video or take a brochure. I walked into the little booth, read the instructions, and used the machine correctly.


    if you were careless or hasty and used it incorrectly, DON’T BLAME THE MACHINE.

  9. Discussing what is and isn’t a legitimate voting exercise has been in -1’ed the past.

    Only when you post it. You see, I’m out to get you.

  10. I agree. The machines were easy to use. I know of several blind people who used them and had zero problems. I also spoke to some elderly people who had never used a computer or even an ATM and they had only positive things to say about the machines.

    It is inconceviable to me that enough mistakes could have been made in this election to have affected the outcome.

  11. Note that I was not saying that I threw away a vote. I only cast one vote, intentionally. I’m saying that because my wife intended to cast two, she threw away a vote, by accident (though not a terribly unhappy accident).

    Also, I can understand your desire to stay away from the polls if you don’t like any of the candidates, but my own opinion on the subject is that you really ought to vote, if only to pick the lesser of evils. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me.

    I guess my premise is that just about every intelligent voter will find something distasteful about every candidate (they’re all politicians, fer cryin’ out loud).

    But if we do not excersize our vote to block the worst politicians, the only votes that will be counted are the un-thinking masses who listen to promises and gloss over obvious character/platform/logic flaws and thus make everything worse for everybody. Right?

    I may be way off, but at least I’m trying. :)

  12. I didn’t find the machine difficult to use either. But I understand how others could’ve been confused, after discussing it with some who were.

    There was an expectation that you’d vote for one seat at a time, and pick your candidate each time. Combine that expectation with the unwillingness to read the directions, and voila, under-vote!

    I bet that most of these under-votes were from those that consider themselves “computer literate”, since they would be less inclined to read the directions, and more inclined to breeze through the process thinking they knew what was going to happen.

    Obviously, a failure of this type to RTFM places the responsibility on the user.

  13. Yo Jake,

    Good job in throwing the election to Schilling. Excellent work. Really fair reporting there in the home-stretch. “Here’s how to make sure Schilling gets elected.” Nice article, Jakie boy. Now get the fuck out of town and let the Progress hire a real reporter.

    Your friend,


  14. Mooney’s article on the day of the election was totally unethical and certainly played a huge role in Schilling’s triumph, given his very small margin of victory. Jake Mooney surprised a lot of us with his reporting during the last part of the campaign. We had expected better.

  15. Umm, I’m not disputing that some of Mooney’s articles seemed to carry a pro-Schilling slant (in that they shared the Republicans’ strategy), but how exactly is that unethical?

    If Mooney and the Progress want to see a candidate elected, what rule of ethics prevents them from promoting someone?

    I can understand calling it “unethical” if the Progress/Mooney said before-hand that they were going to cast all candidates in an equal light, but did they say that? That’s an honest question… I haven’t seen that they have, but they might’ve.

    If the Progress/Mooney never claimed that they would show no preference, then I can understand you being upset with them, but I wouldn’t view it as unethical in any sense of the word. I mean, it could’ve been worse. They could have at some point actually said “We think you should vote for Schilling, and here’s why.” But they didn’t.

  16. They could have at some point actually said “We think you should vote for Schilling, and here’s why.” But they didn’t.

    Yes, they did. It appeared on their editorial page, which is exactly where editorial opinion belongs.

  17. You’re right, you’re right. I guess I was naive in expecting them to be even-handed in their reporting. But they’re humans, they have an agenda just like the rest of us, and I guess they were just working to further their agenda. God bless ’em. Perhaps “unethical” wasn’t the right word then. Maybe “rigged” is a better descriptor?

  18. Actually, I don’t think there was anything unethical or rigged about the Daily Progress’s reporting. You’ve got to realize, these guys are looking for interesting stories. Most of what happened in the candidate forums was scripted and largely boring to all but the most avid of local politics junkies.

    It looks to me like the Republicans presented their strategy to a reporter and it was an interesting story. The Democrats could have presented their strategy to the same reporter had they thought it in their interest to do so.

    Frankly, this looks to me like just another case of the Democrats taking a passive role and then complaining, while the Republicans were being proactive. The same thing happened when the police union endorsed Schilling and the Democrats complained because nobody from the police union asked them to appear at a forum to discuss their views.

    I’m a Democrat and, it pains me to say, that we were just out-hustled. You gotta get up off your ass and show some initiative. That’s what leadership is all about. It’s not just being the smartest, or having the best policies. You’ve got to expend some creative energy to communicate with the public and bashing the press is not the best place to start.

  19. For the record, the evil JM is not responsible for the previous post. But I bet he agrees with it.

  20. You’re right in what you’re saying about the importance of voting. Unfortunately, explaining these concepts to the potential electorate will not result in a significant number of them changing their ways.

    Overall, people tend to be very rational in their level of political awareness and activity. The first step in addressing low voter turnouts has to be accepting the fact that not voting can be a rational decision.

    You’ve only got but so much time in the day to do anything. Consciously or otherwise, we all have current events awareness budgets that are adjusted as needed. We tend to make an effort at following types of news that particularly interest or more importantly affect us. While the political situation in Indonesia may be a very important and constantly-shifting thing, how often do you seek out news about it? But that would change if they suddenly became a major ally in a large scale war. You would then, wisely, be very concerned with what is happening in Indonesia. Unless it’s a hobby, rational people don’t waste time on fruitless endeavors.

    Ditto on the local scale. People feel that they have no self-interest in political issues or elections, so they rationally divert their time and attention elsewhere. This is true both in the sense of having little to gain and little at risk of losing.

    Granted, there are other factors at work that I won’t try and get into here. But I cannot over-stress the importance of acknowledging the rationality of sloth. From there, the logical thing to do is to doggedly improve the numbers on the public’s attention budget until a profit is realized.

  21. As someone who has their workplace’s proprietary software changed on me every 3 months, I’d like to pass on a little thing I’ve learned about using most machinery and software.


    That’s it!

  22. These comments baffle me. I guess its unethical to list in a news story a strategy that might help one of the candidates? Wouldn’t failure to report on that indicate a bias in the other direction?? I guess those who are complaining of “unethical reporting” really are upset that voters may have had additional information that helped them to cast their vote(s) in a manner that was more likely to effect the result they desired . . . I thought that was the purpose of a free press

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